Here’s how I met the family who took me on the tour of the coal fields hospital:
Dadu and I were finishing lunch in the little gazebo overlooking much of the JV campus. As was often the case, a family was wandering about the campus, enjoying the natural beauty of the forest. Seeing me, they approached us and asked for some pictures. Sure, why not, we said.
We spoke with them for a few minutes. When Dadu heard they lived in the coal mining area and that the father worked for the coal mines, he said, “Ah, they can take you on a tour of the area, and show you the hospital!” He asked them if that would be alright.
In response, not only did they write down their address and phone number and invite me to come, but they asked us to “please come for lunch.” The two college-age girls in the family asked for my ID on Facebook.
About a week later, I was in fact sitting in this family’s house, being served delicious Punjabi food made by the girls’ mother and the girls, Nicky and Isha, themselves. The chili paneer was hot enough to make me sweat. I loved it.
Indians do not take the business of having guests lightly. They bend over backwards to make sure you are comfortable, have enough food, have enough to drink, are served first, are served more often, are given twice the dessert anyone else is. They bring you your tea on a shiny tray. Then they bring you more, more, more.
At the end of my visit, in a wonderfully sweet gesture, the girls bought me bracelets and earrings. I promised I would call them the next time I went to Ranchi, where the girls went to school.
And indeed, I did, and they let me stay with them for a few days, where they and their friends welcomed me into their group with the same affection and friendliness they showed each other.
AND. We went to an amusement park. It was so much fun.